Caleb van Ryneveld has been removed from his position as President of the Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA), after an extensive hearing by OUCA’s Disciplinary Committee found him guilty of multiple rule infringements.
The Disciplinary Committee (DC) met to assess charges against van Ryneveld at 10am yesterday, Wednesday 17th May, after his temporary suspension as President earlier in the week. The judgement issued at 4am this morning, Thursday 18th, subsequently held that that he had infringed three of the Association’s rules and standing orders, Rule 5(1)(a)(i), Rule 5(1)(a)(ii), and Rule 5(1)(a)(iv).
This means van Ryneveld was found to have “engaged in a course of behaviour which may serve to bring the Association into disrepute or to undermine any of its objectives”, and that he “substantially failed in his obligation as President” to uphold the Association’s rules. The DC also found that van Ryneveld had verbally abused a member of committee.
Van Ryneveld told Cherwell: “The charges against me to the Disciplinary Committee were politically motivated and comprehensively untrue. The process of the Disciplinary Committee disregarded principles of natural justice.”
This comes after van Ryneveld faced significant controversy over his proposals to reform the OUCA constitution. In an email to OUCA members on Monday, he described Jake Dibden’s accession as the Association’s Returning Officer as a “crisis” which “reflects the more serious ongoing issue that key offices in OUCA have been determined in secret”.
OUCA confirmed that Dibden was elected “in accordance with the rules and standing orders” at 8pm on Sunday, 7th May by a vote of the Disciplinary Committee. However, it is understood that van Ryneveld did not support him as RO and used his appointment as grounds to try and change the Association’s Rules more broadly.
Van Ryneveld also alleged that the Secretary had called a motion of no confidence in him, but the DC found this to be untrue. Today, the Association clarified: “In the email which Mr van Ryneveld sent to the mailing list on Friday 12th May, he mentioned a Vote of No Confidence … Mr van Ryneveld could provide no satisfying evidence of such a Vote of No Confidence ever having been brought.”
As well as being formally removed from office, van Ryneveld’s membership of OUCA has been suspended until the end of term on Sunday 18th June.
Van Ryneveld said: “Under the Standard Form Constitution required for all registered student societies at Oxford, the President may only be removed by a vote at a General Meeting of the membership. The Disciplinary Committee has wilfully ignored this … I intend to exercise my right under the OUCA Constitution to appeal this decision to our Senior Member and, if necessary, to the Proctors of the University.”
OUCA told Cherwell: “with regards to further comment on the disciplinary proceedings, unfortunately, we are bound by our constitution not to make anything more public until after council tomorrow so we cannot offer comment.” A spokesperson added, “as to the legitimacy of the DC, I would emphasise that the process took 18 hours, and included a large number of witnesses to insure all parties were given ample opportunity to make their case. It followed the provisions set out in the rules and standing orders and longstanding OUCA precedent”.
Peter Walker will take over as Acting President of the Association, and said in an email to OUCA members that he looks forward to partaking in the rest of “what promises (sic) a very successful term”.
This article will be updated to reflect future developments.